We all know what happened in 2002. LB's establishment assured voters that LB was on the "right track" and City Hall incumbents deserved reelection. When the elections were over, the mounting deficit (about which city management warned and LBReport.com reported with no visible Council response) had suddenly become a "budget crisis."(a)...[A]n agency may, with the consent of the legislative body, pay all or a part of the value of the land for and the cost of the installation and construction of any building, facility, structure, or other improvement which is publicly owned either within or without the project area, if the legislative body determines all of the following:
The lesson from all this: the stakes on issues from the airport, to parks, to police, to the city's financial stability are too high to entrust to a City Hall that governs based on W.C. Fields' principle: "Never give a sucker an even break."
What LB City Hall is offering NLB now is precisely what it said would only happen if the police facility were not built at Scherer Park. No, Councilmembers Webb nor Lerch were not in office when the latest fast shuffle began, but they are rapidly being pulled into a City Hall sink hole on this. No, Acting City Manager Miller and Community Development Dir. Fallon weren't in their current positions either. That's irrelevant. A well run city's word should be its bond.
It may not have dawned on Councilman Webb yet, but he's already on the road to recall over his record on the Airport which has left his district worse than when he took office. The newly drawn 8th district now includes much of NLB, including neighborhoods from Del Amo to Market St. If City Hall raids NLB's Redevelopment money, his northern 8th district residents can sign recall petitions just as easily as people in Cal. Hts., Bixby Knolls and Los Cerritos.
Councilman Lerch, who took office barely six months ago, has stunned some at City Hall by putting a premium on principle (what a concept). When some suggested combining Redevelopment areas (a clever way to loot NLB's Redevelopment money), Lerch wasn't fooled by fiscal diversions; he argued that the issue was City Hall keeping its word.
Councilman Lerch was right...and probably hasn't forgotten that he was actually in the audience at the February 2000 NLB Council meeting when City Hall assured taxpayers it had the money for the project. Speaking from the floor before becoming a Councilman, Mr. Lerch urged City Hall to get busy and move ahead on the project.
Three years later, we doubt he'll take kindly to a W.C. Fields fast shuffle that tries to hold the project hostage to draining millions of Redevelopment dollars from his district. For the record, the Scherer Park police facility isn't even in his district.
Then there's a pesky question of whether LB City Hall can legally get away with raiding North LB's Redevelopment funds to build the Scherer Park police station.
Statutory authority for Redevelopment is based on elimination of blight. Section 33445(a) of the CA Health & Safety Code provides in pertinent part (with boldface highlighting added by us):
(1) That the buildings, facilities, structures, or other improvements are of benefit to the project area or the immediate neighborhood in which the project is located, regardless of whether the improvement is within another project area, or in the case of a project area in which substantially all of the land is publicly owned that the improvement is of benefit to an adjacent project area of the agency.
(2) That no other reasonable means of financing the buildings, facilities, structures, or other improvements, are available to the community.
(3) That the payment of funds for the acquisition of land or the cost of buildings, facilities, structures, or other improvements will assist in the elimination of one or more blighting conditions inside the project area or provide housing for low- or moderate-income persons, and is consistent with the implementation plan adopted pursuant to Section 33490.
(b) The determinations by the agency and the local legislative body pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be final and conclusive. [emphasis added]
You be the judge: Would you be persuaded that constructing a larger police building in an adjoining Council district "will assist in the elimination of one or more blighting conditions inside the project area?"
NLB's PAC may lack many substantive powers, but it does have the ability to hire legal counsel to advise it on this and other related matters.
The NLB PAC will vote on city management's proposed use of North LB Redevelopment funds on January 23. Although it will be only advisory, a "yes" vote could give City Hall political cover ("See, NLB wants us to do this.") A "no" vote would prevent City Hall from claiming NLB favors the action.
A third alternative -- a parliamentary move by members to "table" the matter -- would avoid a direct confrontation with City Hall without acquiescing in the action.
LBReport.com will report what happens.
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